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/The 
f Creatine 
Ionian 



A quarterly newsletter, Governors State University, Park Forest South, IL 60466. 



A quarterly newsletter published at Governors State University under the auspices of the Provost's Ottice 

©1977, Governors State University and Helen Hughes 

STAFF 

Helen E. Hughes, Editor 

Marian Schuller, Editorial Assistant 

Joan Lewis, Editorial Consultant 

Suzanne Oliver, Graphic Designer 



VOL. 1, NO. 3, WINTER 1978 



GUEST EDITORS 
Rev. Ellen Dohner 
A. Yueh-shan Wei 



YMI!Sn n 



From the Guest Editor: Rev. E.H. Dohner 

This week I was at a meeting where the 
subject of whether or not women should 
be ordained for the ministry came up. 
One women said that it was "unbiblical" 
and quoted St. Paul as saying that women 
should keep silence in the church. An- 
other woman said that men are given a 
"greater spiritual power" and there- 
fore women must turn to them for guid- 
ance in all religious matters. 

This was not a fundamentalist church-- 
it was at our local university. The quo- 
tations from Paul always get my adrenalin 
flowing. I reyere and cherish the great 
wisdom that is contained in the Bible but 
I deeply resent it when scriptures are 
used as a reason to keep people oppress- 
ed. Bible passages were also used this 
way by Southern preachers in slavery 
days to defend that brutalizing custom. 

Why should the utterance of one man who 
wrote almost 2000 years ago be used to 
keep half the human race in psychologi- 
cal shackles? This woman that I would 
like to consider a sister said that it 
is "God's word, that's why." Every 
word in that Good Book is "God's own 
word," she informs me. I did not re- 
tort because there was no use arguing, 
but I was thinking that if there is a 
loving God how could s/he tell us 
something that is in total opposition 
to human health and potential. That is 
not my God! 



1 



ADVISORY COUNCIL 

Marilyn Blitzstein, Subscriptions 

Rev. Ellen Dohner, Religion and Philosophy of Creativity 

Dorothy Freck, Science/Journalism 

Sue Gray, Women's Studies 

Harriet Gross, Sociology/Women's Studies 

Helene Guttman, Biological Sciences 

Shirley Katz, Music/ Literature 

Donna Piontek, Social Sciences 

Betye Saar, Fine Arts 

Sara Shumer, Political Theory 

Sandra Tucker, Communications 

Emily Wasiolek, Literature 



My creator tells me to keep on with 
creation. We are continually in the 
process of creating ourselves--that is 
our charge as religious people; that is 
our spiritual thrust. 

As a minister who is also a woman I am 
delighted and relieved that we no longer 
have to be crippled by straight-jacketing 
texts that are buried in the scriptures. 
We look for our truths not only in the 
Bible but in all the richness of the 
world's religions and the whole history 
of mankind. Revelation is not sealed. 

Rather than picking out selected lines 
in the Bible that prove that women have 
no place in church leadership, let us 
look at the Bible's larger picture: it 
represents a great panorama of change 
and growth and process in which God 
evolves as a human history evolves. It 
is the enormously inspiring story of a 
persecuted peoples' deliverance from 
oppression and their exploration of New 
Space. It is also a report on One Man 
who came to tell a legalistic establish- 
ment to give equality and justice to all 
people regardless of their race or so- 
cial class or even gender. Even though 
Paul never mentions this, for me this is 
the ethos that gives me and my sisters 
the permission to be ministers of all 
the gospel s--those written and yet-to-be 
written. 

In sisterspirit, 

Rev. Ellen Harvell Dohner 



FROM THE EDITOR'S BED, 



Not the ringing telephone, but a dream of 
our mother awakened us from sleep, re- 
storing memories of a handsome, stately 
woman whose quietly thoughtful sermons 
left deep impressions on young minds. 
Where might one find a fragment of one 
of her sermons, to honor her in this spe- 
cial issue of The Creative Woman , dedi- 
cated to Women in Religion? A two-day 
search (closets, boxes, desk drawers, 
files) failed to turn it up. A tele- 
phone call to a sister in another city-- 
and it was available in minutes, read 
aloud and scribbled down so we could 
share it with our readers. We talked, my 
sister and I, of how Mother saved many of 
Dad's sermons (poetry, fervor, eloquence, 
written in a large flowing hand on the 
back of old orders of service) but none 
of her own. (Does this sound familiar?) 
At the age of 91, at Vicky's request, she 
wrote out one of her sermons from memory. 
Remembering Mamma, with love and grati- 
tude, an exerpt from that sermon is re- 
produced here. We think she would be 
pleased to share these pages with the 
other women described and recorded here 
who selflessly poured their lives into an 
enrichment of the human spirit and human 
condition. 




THE MOST INTERESTING ANSWER, 



Many letters have been received in 
response to the letter from Doug, pub- 
lished in the Fall 1977 issue. They 
were all interesting. They ranged in 
length from one sentence to six pages. 
We considered making up a special issue 
devoted entirely to Answers to the Let- 
ter from Doug. But the editors decided 
one one of them: the answer by Harriet 
Marcus will be found on page 15. 



ABOUT THIS ISSUE 



Our two Guest Editors for this issue are 
the Reverend Ellen Harvell Dohner, Minis- 
ter of the Unitarian Universal ist Church 
of Park Forest, and Doctor A. Yueh-shan 
Wei, Professor of Philosophy and History 
in the College of Cultural Studies at 
Governors State University. Their com- 
bined visions are reflected in the mate- 
rial here: East and West, Female and 
Male, scholar and pastor. We are for- 
tunate to have their wisdom, insight and 
especially their shared faith in the 
spiritual power of women in all ages to 
affect the consciousness of their times. 



THE FIRST TEMPTATION 



We know very little about Jesus after his 
birth and trip to Egypt for safety, then 
after Herod's death, his return with his 
parents to the town of Nazareth. 

We do know about his journey to Jerusalem 
with his parents for the Passover feast 
when he was twelve years old, and of his 
being so absorbed in his quest for truth 
when there, that his parents had begun the 
journey home before they realized his 
absence. When they returned for him, they 
found him--Where?--in the temple with the 
rabbis listening eagerly and asking ques- 
tions. 

That is all. Nothing about the teen 
years and early manhood before he was 
thirty years old, when his cousin John 
whom they called the Baptist was preach- 
ing by the River Jordan. 

Then Jesus went to the mountain to plan 
his life work, to decide what he should 
do and what he should not do. Becoming 
yery hungry, he thought of that strange 
new power that he had. (Why should he 
go hungry?) But he said, "No, I will not 
use it ever for myself alone." And he 
lived as many of his people did when on 
a journey; he ate of the grain along the 
way and drank of the brook. He thought 
of the eagerness of the people for some- 
thing strange and new, something spec- 
tacular. Would that not draw crowds 
around him to listen? But he said no 
to that. He did not wish to be sensa- 
tional. The temptation came to him to 
use that power to control groups, to 
use his vast power to govern. But Jesus 
rejected that, too, though many have suc- 
cumbed to it. 

Now, having fought the temptations, he 
went forth with a few companions, good 
men with open minds. He went to Galilee, 
drew a large crowd, and preached. Be- 
cause his compassion was so great, he 
healed many of their diseases. Peter's 
wife's mother was ill and he healed her 
and she was able to serve them the 
evening meal. Jesus and his group slept 
nearby. 



Early the next morning Jesus went to the 
mountain where soon his disciples found 
him and said, "Make haste. A crowd is 
gathering!" But they were surprised to 
hear Jesus refuse to repeat the healing 
acts. He knew that he must never let 
the promise or the performance of healing 
take precedence over preaching. He knew 
then and always that his great task on 
earth was to preach and teach a better 
way of life. How that teaching has changed 
the lives of many. How that teaching has 
gone down through the ages, transforming 
the lives of millions. 

Blessed Jesus, early may we turn to thee. 

"Into thy hands I commend my spirit." 

(From the "Parables of Jesus", 
a sermon by Sarah Mayhew Hughes, born 1876, 
written in 1968. ) 




Sarah Mayhew Hughes 



3 



MARY DALY SPEAKS TO ME 



As the women's movement begins to 
upon the fabric of society, trans 
patriarchy into something that ne 
into a di arena! situation that is 
it can become the greatest single 
major religions of the world, We 
Beliefs and values that have held 
of years will be questioned as ne 
revolution may well be the greate 
survival of spiritual consciousne 



have its effect 
forming it from 
ver existed before-- 
radically new- 
challenge to the 
stern and Eastern, 
sway for thousands 
ver before. This 
st single hope for 
ss on this planet. 



Thus speaketh Mary Daly in Beyond God 
the Father: Toward a Philosophy of 
Women's Liberation. She refers to this 
book as her self-conferred diploma upon 
graduation from radical Catholic to 
post-christian feminist. In Beyond 
G od the Father , Daly analyzes Chris- 
tian myths and ideas of God, point- 
ing out how they limit thinking, dis- 
tort ethical beliefs and affect behav- 
ior. She argues that radical feminism 
enables us to transform our relation- 
ship to each other and to the environ- 
ment, that only radical feminism can 
open up human consciousness adequately 
to the desire for non-hierarchical, 
non-oppressive society. 

The dialogue which follows is imagin- 
ary. There is much more in Mary Daly's 
book than the issues I choose to dis- 
cuss. I hope my conversation with Mary 
Daly becomes a prologue for yours. 

IMAGINARY CONVERSATION WITH MARY DALY 

Me: Castrating the phallocentric value 
system 1 . Exorcising the machismo 
ethos! I'm right behind you. But 
why challenge religion? Vengeful 
gods, virgin births, sin, sacri- 
fice — I don't want to discuss it! 
Can't we just get on with the revo- 
lution? 

Daly:Sinful abominations all! The re- 
sult of the fall of religion into 
the role of patriarchy's prosti- 
tute. Religion can be redeemed. 

Also, we should be aware that it 
is patriarchal religion which 
serves to perpetuate the sexual 
caste system by calling it natural. 



Me: 



Daly 



4 



Myths may not be taken seriously but 
they have influenced our laws and 
continue to influence our thinking. 
Ethicists, mostly male, construct 
arguments, against abortion for ex- 
ample, which don't take women's ex- 
perience into account. Our theology 
and ethics, developed under patri- 
archy, tend to serve the interests of 
sexist society. 

Psychiatry and psychology have 
served us no better. If the labels 
"heretic" or "sinful" don't keep us 
in line, "sick," "neurotic" or 
"unfeminine" may. 

Lest ye be seduced or shamed into 
joining some other revolutionary 
movement and forsaking our own 
cause, think on this. Sexual caste 
is the "original sin" upon which all 
oppression is modeled. 

I see. Strike at the roots. But to 
be fair to theologians, though I can't 
imagine why, haven't they cleaned up 
their act? Apologists have thumbed 
through their sacred texts to find a 
neuter or androgynous god. Paul did 
not really mean all those nasty things 
he said about women, did he? And was 
not Jesus a feminist? 

: Images survive. We can speak of God 
as spirit and still imagine "Him." 
While we may eliminate such concep- 
tions as "God the Father" and the 
"Kingdom of Heaven" (patriarchal and 
hierarchal) we may retain the image 
and idea of a Supreme Being keeping 
humans in a state of infantile sub- 
jection. 



Me 



Paul? For almost two thousand 
years his ideas have been used to 
enforce sexual hierarchy. Reform 
will not do. 

Jesus was a feminist, so what? We 
can't shuck off history so easily. 
This approach assumes past history 
has prior claim over present experi- 
ence. Christ, as male, cannot be an 
adequate model for women. Christ- 
like qualities of sacrificial love, 
passive acceptance of suffering, hu- 
mility and meekness, those of vic- 
tim, which have been expected only 
of women, are not the qualities we 
need. 

If the language is compatible with 
oppression as history shows and the 
symbols can be used oppressively, 
there is something wrong with them. 

What about modern theology? I 
thought God was dead. 




Illustration by Emily Culpepper 
From: BEYOND GOD THE FATHER 
by Mary Daly, Beacon Press, 
Boston, 1973. 



Daly: Maybe God is dead, but Jesus lives. 
Most modern theologists, while re- 
jecting the old concepts of God, 
can't seem to accept the idea of 
Jesus as a limited human being. 
Some of them even retain the myth of 
the "eternal feminine." None chal- 
lenge the basic assumptions of 
patriarchal religion or recognize 
the depths of their conditioning. 
They have a vested interest in sex- 
ist society and in either the church 
or the scholarly community. 

The general effect of Christian mo- 
rality has been to distort real mo- 
tivations and values. Only women 
and subordinate males are expected 
to live up to this morality. As 
victims of this hypocrisy, we can 
recognize it and see how badly it 
has served both men and women. 

Me: Speaking of hypocrisy, what about 
abortion? This is one issue which 
has forced us to confront the whole 
system. We have had to deal with 
our religious beliefs, recognize how 
we have been conditioned to place 
the welfare of all others above our 
own, face the possible condemnation 
of society and realize our powerless 
situation. 

Daly:We have to look at the context in 

which positions against abortion are 
taken. Attitudes about the nature 
of women, about sex, about authority 
influence those making the decisions. 
"Objective" arguments select some 
facts and leave out others. While 
many factors are taken into account 
when considering other issues, on 
this issue the situation of the wo- 
man involved is not deemed important 
nor is the fact that we do not have 
9afe and adequate birth control. 

The hypocrisy of a patriarchal insti- 
tution which supports and justifies 
wars and genocide and then claims it 
is concerned for the sanctity of life 
is astonishing. What authoritarian 
religion fears more than the "destruc- 
tion of life" is that women will re- 
ject that authority and make their 
own decisions. 



Authentic religion would foster re- 
search in birth control, provide birth 
control information, work to change 
the sexual caste system which traps 
women into unwanted pregnancies and 
inspire the kind of changes which 
would make abortion a non-problem. 

Me: Authentic religion you say. I sup- 
pose that includes some kind of God. 
God is love, ground of Being, what- 
ever? Love is love and those other 
theological contortions are hardly 
necessary for good clean living. Is 
this trip necessary? 

Daly: First of all, there is a basic ques- 
tion implied in human existence. 

Me: I wouldn't say so. Anything else? 

Daly:Recognizing the limitations of lan- 
guage and at the same time trying to 
avoid any kind of static world-view 
implied by even radical theological 
conceptions of God, I have spoken of 
God as a verb, as Being. As a moral 
power summoning women and men to act 
out of our deepest hope and to be- 
come who we can be. As ultimate 
transcendence, keeping us open to 
the future and not fixated on lim- 
ited objectives. 

Me: Hm. 

Daly:We have no power over the ulti- 
mate reality. What power we have 
is derived from participation in 
ultimate reality. Awareness of 
this keeps us free from idolatry 
in regard to our own cause since 
it tells us that all presently 
envisaged goals, lifestyles, sym- 
bols, and societal structures may 
be transitory. 

Me: You lost me for a bit there. But 
I know some fixated, idolatrous 
people. l_ certainly never thought 
that his and her briefcases, grand- 
motherly four star generals, or 
communal kitchens were the best we 
could do. I may be pretty quick 
with the answers but they don't 
let you criticize unless you come 



up with "positive solutions" or 
"something concrete." And just when 
you think you've gained some lim- 
ited objective they amend it or re- 
peal it. Ah well, this too shall 
pass. 

Daly:Hm. 

Me: Maybe I need a dose of something. 
You say that women are uniquely 
called to be the bearers of exis- 
tential courage. How so? 



Daly: It takes courage to 
position as outside 
deviant from the ma 
object to the male 
we reject this posi 
be the "other," we 
the evil they have 
us and others who a 
from themselves as 
selves. 



recognize our 
r, as alien, as 
le norm, as an 
subject. When 
tion, refuse to 
force men to see 
projected onto 
re different 
within them- 



We face other anxieties--the anx- 
iety of guilt over refusing to do 
what society demands and the anx- 
iety of meaninglessness when the 
old meanings, role definitions and 
life expectations are rejected and 
we emerge in a world without models. 

Me: It ain't easy. 

Daly: We need each other. We need affir- 
mation from others. In sisterhood 
women can rid themselves of self- 
hatred and feelings of guilt. We can 
find new ways of becoming whole 
human beings. 

Me: While I would never have thought of 
radical feminism as religious, we 
can certainly use all the creative 
thinking we can get. Just how is 
sisterhood religious? 

Daly: I speak of sisterhood as "cosmic 
covenant," as fulfilling certain 
functions that churches claimed to 
fulfill and never could. 



Feminism serves as a "sanctuary," 
a space set apart from the rest of 
the world. It is not an escape from 
reality but a place to face the pro- 
blems of alienation, a place to be 
oneself in community with others. It 
can be physical space but it is also 
mental space. We find we are in the 
same "space" with other women we meet 
who are also breaking out of the old 
ways of thinking and behaving. We 
have a kind of covenant with others. 

The church has been seen as a charis- 
matic community in which healing and 
prophecy are experienced. Healing 
within institutional religion has 
been needed because religion and so- 
ciety have been destructive. This 
healing does not get to the cause of 
the sickness. Healing in sisterhood 
can be thought of as healing the di- 
vided self, becoming complete human 
beings. 

Feminism is prophetic in a new way. 
It points to a better cultural order, 
not just to reform within the exist- 
ing society. It is also not individ- 
ual but communal prophecy. 

Sisterhood has a mission. Not a 
mission of conquest or of imperialist 
expansion but an invitation to 
leave the old world of sin and 
salvation for the new space. 

This "cosmic covenant" of sister- 
hood has the potential to change 
our environment from a culture of 
reciprocity with the physical 
world. It extends outward toward 
male liberation, towards relation- 
ships of respect and understanding 
and depth with others. 



Me: Where do I sign? 



Shirley Katz 



A SMALL BUT SIGNIFICANT MATTER 

"To the Editors: 

Dear Brothers is Christ, 

Why do you think that we should not have 
girl servers? We should be a family. We 
would rather have girls and boys serving. 
Just because boys are stronger than girls 
it doesn't mean that boys have to serve 
everyday. Are there some of you who 
don't like girl servers? Please tell us 
why you don't like them? We aprishiate 
it if girls could serve at the altar. If 
everyone would try it. After all we are 
a Christian family, and Christ wants us 
to do things together. 

Love, 

Rita Martin 

Ada, Ola. 

I am in the third grade. From St Joseph 

School." 

NCR, 15 December, 1965, p. 4. 




7 



"At Thanksgiving, 1975, the women at Alderson Prison created and conducted their 
own service in the chapel. We sang and we prayed and we listened to one another. 

When this prayer was presented, it didn't immediately hold the attention of many 
of the women. 

But when I reached the part that began 'But I am a woman' they became absolutely 
silent—listening to its every word." 

JANE KENNEDY'S THANKSGIVING PRAYER 



My god is a god of love , a god who cares 
about us, a god who nutures and supports, 
who helps us grow in all kinds of experi- 
ences. And I am thankful. 

My god is a god of justice, who looks upon 
all victims of society and carries them in 
her hands, weeping. Her tears fall upon 
victims of poverty, upon victims of war, 
upon victims of racial prejudice, upon 
victims of sex discrimination, upon vic- 
tims of minority status and upon all pris- 
oners. Yes, all those whom society builds 
walls around to enclose, god weeps for. 
She weeps and her tears nourish us and 
we grow the courage to act against our 
own injustice and that of others. So 
we create a world worthy of us. And I 
am thankful . 

My god is a god of hope . Because we 
are created by god, part of us is di- 
vine. That part always stretches to- 
ward the good. That is why it is not 
up to god to create the world in which 
we live; it is up to us. 

For our lifetime, that part of the 
world we can touch with finger or mind 
is ours. So we must create, mold, in- 
struct, require of it. I, with my sis- 
ters, must push toward a better world. 

Our hope is that we know the direction; 
the god of hope offers her grace to 
guide us, especially in time of turmoil 
and tragedy. 

God and we each do our part for we are 
interdependent. But each of us must act. 
God is constant when she is doing her 
part; that is what is meant by faithful- 
ness. 



We must act in our world, take responsi- 
bility for it, send out our graces through 
our fingers and tongue, so that we, also, 
may be faithful . 

God and we are partners; we act in com- 
plementary ways like right and left 
hands. But we must do our part. 

For only as we and god act together is 
there meaning in life, meaning to our 
lives, our moments. 

We remember that violence comes after 
anger burns unextinguished. Anger that 
has not tools to convert itself into 
something better, is anger that can nei- 
ther die nor be transformed into love. 
Thus violence. Violence will be put 
away when we are able to see and act 
upon the meaning of life. And so I am 
thankful . 

As creature of this god, I am thankful 
that I may speak out against injustice, 
turn my back on that which has no mean- 
ing, or mold from its garbage that which 
is infused with meaning. 

But I am a woman. And in my time and 
for the past 2000 years, woman was 
thought to be inferior to man-less able, 
less intelligent, less courageous than 
him. 

Yet in my time and for the future it 
shall be known that woman is as precious 
to god as man, as loved and as respected. 

We shall develop all our skills, those of 
thought, of speech, of action, so that we 
are worthy of our relationship with god. 



8 



And for this new beginning for woman, I 
am thankful. I am thankful I am a woman. 

Surrounding and holding all my life, I am 
thankful to dance and sing with the god 
of love, as well as weep and moan with 
her, thankful to sit with god in the 
quiet of my days and breathe together 
our thoughts, our fears, and joys and 
hopes, planning a new highway to travel. 



In love and hope I work 
for these rich gifts, I 



for meaning. And 
am thankful . 



Jane Kennedy 
Jane Kennedy, the pacifist nurse who 
went to prison twice for her anti-war 
presently a member of 
Governors State University, 
been published in the 



activities, is 
the faculty at 
Her prayer has 



National Coalition of American Nuns News- 
letter, December, 1975. 




WOMEN IN THE RELIGION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT 



Though the matter of "women's place in the 
society in general" is far from settled in 
the minds of many, we live in a world where 
women are theoretically free to compete with 
men in every realm and to follow whatever 
calling may present itself to them. The 
major exception to this rule, however, is 
that women are not even theoretically free 
to exercise a priestly ministry in a number 
of the world's Christian denominations. 
Many people, who encourage and respect wo- 
men in other professions and even church 
related works, feel in the matter of 
priesthood alone, the freedom of women to 
pursue diverse vocations should not 
apply. Ironically, "church" is one of 
the three places which the traditional 
male-dominated society assigned to women: 
Kinder , Kuche , Kirche . But when leader- 
ship is in question, women are excluded. 

Since the Old Testament not only shaped 
the Judeo-christian tradition, but great- 
ly influenced the western civilization, 
the position of women in the Old Testa- 
ment is particularly important when 
dealing with women in Religion. 

In the OT time, the wife called her hus- 
band ba'al or "master"; she also called 
him "adon" or"lord n (Gn. 18:12; Jg. 19:26; 
Am.4:l); she addressed him, in fact, as 
a slave addressed his master, or a sub- 
ject his king. The decalogue includes a 
man's wife among his possessions, along 
with his house and land, his male and 
female slaves, his ox and his ass (Ex.20: 
17; Dt.5:21). Her husbarid could repudi- 
ate her, but she could not claim a di- 
vorce; all her life she remained a mi- 
nor. The wife did not inherit from her 
husband, nor daughters from their fa- 
ther, except when there was no male 
heir (Nb. 27:8). A vow made by a girl 
or married woman needed, to be valid, 
the consent of father or husband and if 
this consent was withheld, the vow was 
null and void (Nb. 30:4-17). 

This attitude cannot even be justified 
by the hermeneutic principle of " Sitz im 
Leben' -' i.e. by comparing with other an- 
cient Near Eastern cultures of that time. 



Contrary to a common belief, the social 
and 'legal position of an Israelite wife 
was inferior to the position a wife oc- 
cupied in the great countries round 
about. In Egypt, the wife was often the 
head of the family, with all the rights 
such a position entailed. In Babylon, 
she could acquire property, take legal 
action, be a party to contracts, and she 
even had a certain share in her husband's 
inheritance. 

In the colony at Elephantine, under such 
foreign influences, the Jewish wife ac- 
quired certain civil rights. She could 
obtain a divorce. She could also own 
property, and thereby became liable to 
taxation (in a long list of taxpayers, 
there are thirty-two names of women). 
Deeds of exchange and donations, etc., 
also survive, in which the contracting 
parties were women. 

As the performance of women in the wor- 
ship is concerned, Ex. 38:8 speaks of 
the "women who served at the entrance of 
the Tent of Reunion"; the text is re- 
peated in a gloss of 1 Sam. 2:22 which 
is not found in the Greek version. The 
women who served at the Tent remind us of 
the young girls who used to guard the 
sacred pavilion among the pre- Islamic 
Arabs, but there is no indication that 
they had any office to perform in pub- 
lic worship. Though it is quite true 
that women are represented as singing 
and dancing at religious festivals (Ex. 
15:20; Jg. 21:21; Ps. 68:26), this does 
not mean that they formed part of the 
staff regularly appointed for the cult. 
The suggestion that there were women 
among the clergy of the Temple clashes 
with an important linguistic fact: 
there were priestesses in Assyria, 
priestesses and high priestesses in 
Phoenicia, where they are known by the 
feminine gender of kohen ; in the Minaean 
inscriptions, there was a feminine form 
of lw' which some scholars would link 
with the Hebrew 1 ewy ; but Hebrew has no 
feminine noun corresponding to kohen or 
1 ewy ; no women ever held a place among 
the Israelite clergy. 

A. Yueh-shan Wei 



10 



TWO WOMEN OF RELIGIOUS VISION: ST. CATHERINE AND SALLY PRIESAND 



St. Catherine of Siena and Rabbi Sally 
Priesand are two women who are as dif- 
ferent in background and style as a 14th 
Century Catholic Italian and a 20th Cen- 
tury Jewish American would inevitably be. 

St. Catherine of Siena, Italy, was born 
Catherine Benincasa on March 25, 1347. 
She was the twenty-fourth of twenty-five 
children who spent most of their lives 
in their parents' house. 

Catherine exhibited, at a very early age, 
an intense feeling for Catholicism which 
was recognized by the Dominican brothers 
who came to visit her family home from a 
nearby monastery. The brothers' spirit- 
ual guidance, and Catherine's own incli- 
nation led her, at fifteen, against her 
parents' wishes, to join the lay Order 
of the Penance of Saint Dominic. 
Catherine immersed herself in religious 
life with such ardor that she stripped 
herself of all but the barest material 
necessities and dedicated herself to 
serving mankind. 

Word of Catherine's devotion and self- 
lessness spread through Siena and beyond. 
She was reported to have had mystical 
experiences including a Holy Marriage to 
Christ in which they exchanged hearts 
and she received a ring from Him. She 
stayed with a frightened, condemned 
youth before and during his beheading. 
She spent days and nights without sleep 
aiding the sick during pestilence that 
spread through Siena. She interceded, 
when asked, in feuds between powerful 
Italian families. 

Such piety and charity are, by now, 
often attributed to women. It may not 
even have been unusual in 14th Century 
Italy. But it was only a part of the 
work in which Catherine invested her- 
self. She believed all ills could be 
cured through Divine love, and in 1375, 
she entered the political scene of Italy. 

The city of Florence had been placed 
under an interdict by Pope Gregory XI. 
The Pope had removed his seat from Rome 
to Avignon in France, thereby diminish- 
ing his ability to deal with hostili- 



11 



ties within the church and in Italy. A 
conservative group in Florence, recog- 
nizing the awe and respect in which 
Catherine was held by many people, re- 
quested that she go to Avignon to act as 
their mediator. 

She agreed to do so, seeing the opportu- 
nity to influence the political situation 
as well as to appeal to the Pope to move 
toward abolishing corruption in the 
church and to persuade him to return to 
Rome. 

Whether or not Catherine, who made the 
arduous journey with a few of her fol- 
lowers, was successful in her mission is 
subject to some controversy. The fact 
is, however, that shortly after she saw 
the Pope at Avignon he started back to 
Rome, finally re-establishing the papal 
seat in that city. 

Catherine continued to work constantly 
and purposefully for the church, and 
through the church, for the state. She 
was in Florence during the Sciompi Re- 
volt of 1378 at the request of Gregory XI. 
She helped Pope Urban VI in the reorgani- 
zation of the church. She seemed to be 
available wherever there was a need for 
her. 

Catherine's life has been recorded by her 
confessor and biographer, Fra Raimondo, 
and through the volume of her letters 
which remained intact. 

As with anyone who acts in an unconven- 
tional way, Catherine had her detractors. 
From her letters, some have criticized 
her rigidity and her excessive morality. 
As a political activist, she was called 
a busybody who intruded in the affairs 
of men. She was accused of seducing men 
of power to gain their confidence and to 
accomplish her goals. Her mystical ex- 
periences have been analyzed and explain- 
ed away. 

Catherine died in April, 1380. However, 
it wasn't until June, 1461, that her 
followers, already treating her memory 
as that of a Saint, convinced the 
Sienese Pope, Pius II, to canonize her. 



Catherine was a pioneer in her time. Her 
religious zeal led her to transcend the 
accepted life of a woman. Her actions 
permeated many areas of society, and, in 
spite of the fact that she lived only 
thirty-three years, she was a person of 
far-reaching influence. 

Rabbi Sally Priesand is not bathed in an 
aura of mysticism. However, she is deep- 
ly committed to Judaism and its place in 
the world. 

Sally has, with the help of a supportive 
family, overcome many prejudices to be- 
come a rabbi since she first considered 
the possibility as a tenth grader in 
Cleveland. 

In 1972, after completing her training at 
the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, 
Sally was ordained as the first woman 
rabbi. She is presently Associate Rabbi 
of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in 
New York City. 

Sally's work emphasizes the worth of 
each individual, male or female. Indi- 
vidual liberty is of the essence to her 
and her efforts are continuously direct- 
ed to that end. She feels it is the ob- 
ligation of the clergy to speak out on 
contemporary matters and uses the pul- 
pit as a forum to discuss the vital issues 
of the day. 

In her book, Judaism and the New Woman , 
Sally examines various aspects of the 
life of the Jewish woman. 

She acknowledges that Jewish law has 
never been static and has, in fact, been 
progressive toward women in many ways. 

In 1846, the Breslau Conference granted 
women "total religious equality." In 
1892, the Central Conference of American 
Rabbis adopted a resolution stating that 
"women be eligible to full membership 
with all the privileges of voting and 
holding office in our congregations." 

Even though the intentions were good, 
women were still demanding religious 
equality approximately one hundred years 
later. 



A group of Conservative Jewish women 
called upon Rabbis attending the Assembly 
Convention in 1972 to extend themselves 
in affording opportunity to women to have 
full participation in the Jewish community. 

In a statement distributed at the Conven- 
tion, these women said that it was no 
longer enough for the woman to be "extol- 
led for her domestic achievements and re- 
spected as the foundation of the Jewish 
family." 

They said that it was the time for women 
to be granted such rights as membership in 
synagogues, full participation in reli- 
gious observances, opportunity to join 
decision making bodies and to assume pro- 
fessional leadership roles, in synagogues 
and in the general Jewish community. 
They pointed out that Jewish tradition, 
"once far ahead of other cultures," had 
fallen "disgracefully behind in failing 
to come to terms with developments of the 
past century." 

Rabbi Priesand praises these women for 
recognizing that change will not come 
unless it is demanded by women themselves. 

As a result of the action of such women, 
she notes, "society has finally recognized 
that women are equal to men and that they 
too possess intellectual skill, ambition, 
the ability to lead, and the capacity for 
profound spiritual expression." 

To deny society and future generations of 
women's wisdom, creativity, and experience, 
she continues, would be a deprivation to 
them and a great waste of human potential. 

Sally Priesand broke a 4000 year old tra- 
dition when she became a rabbi. Several 
women have followed in her footsteps, but 
it was she who proved it could be done. 



She has 
She has 
many as 
ment of 
filiati 
Housing 
cinnati 
Unit of 
ment. 



not rested on that achievement, 
used her position to reach as 
possible to encourage the ful fill- 
each human being. Her civic af- 
ons, which are legion, range from 
Opportunities Made Equal, in Cin- 
Ohio, to the Sex Crimes Analysis 
the New York City Police Depart- 



12 



When Sally decided to become a rabbi, she 
did not think about being a "first." She 
simply knew that she wanted to be a rabbi. 

"My decision," she says, "was an affirma- 
tion of my belief in God, in the worth of 
each individual, and in Judaism as a way 
of life. It was a tangible action de- 
claring my commitment to the preservation 
and renewal of our tradition." 

St. Catherine of Siena, who lived in the 
14th Century, and Sally Priesand, of New 
York City in the 20th Century, are dif- 
ferent. Yet they are alike. Each of 
them surmounted the conventions of the 
era in which they lived, and through 
their independence of mind and spirit 
became forces in their religious commu- 
nities and in society. 

Sue Gray 



Gardner, Edmund G., The Story of San 
Gimignano , J.M. Dent & Co., London, 1902. 

Glasfurd, Alec, Siena and the Hill Towns , 
Ernest Benn Ltd., London, 1962. 

Priesand, Sally, Judaism and the New 
Woman , Behrman House, New York, 1975. 

Schevill, Ferdinand, Siena, The History 
of a Mediiaeval Commune , Harper & Row, 
Evanston & London, 1964. 



"Young, Successful, and First," Saturday 
Evening Post , October, 1974, P. 52. 






Symbols of the Virgin Mary 
From: SYMBOLS, SIGNS AND SIGNETS 
by Ernest Lehner, Dover Publications, 
New York, 1950. 



13 



THE STORY OF GODDESS KWAN-YIN 



Women have always occupied a prominent 
place in the eastern religions. Accord- 
ing to an ancient Chinese belief, Kwan- 
yin, a princess of a small state, lived 
in China hundreds of years before Christ 
was born. Her father, the King, wished 
her to marry a noble prince of a neigh- 
boring state. But, resolving to ar- 
range to her life, instead of being ar- 
ranged, she took refuge in a convent. 
Her angry father burned the convent and 
forced her to return to his palace. 
Given the alternative of death or mar- 
riage, she preferred the former. Her 
body was brought to hell by a tiger. 
As she entered the hell, the flames 
were quenched, flowers began to bloom 
and even the most evil spirits were 
converted by her kindness. The very 
devils of hell asked her to leave, be- 
cause they were afraid she would empty 
hell. It was there she won the title 
"Goddess of Mercy." She returned to the 
island of Pluto off the coast of Chekiang 
where, even to this day, thousands of 
pilgrims travel to her shrine. Wu Tao- 
tzu of T'ang dynasty was the first 
artist to paint her with long flowing 
draperies and a hood, standing on 
clouds or on waves. Later artists made 
images of her in stone, in wood, in por- 
celain and pottery, in jade, in ivory 
and in lacquer. She was often pictured 
as wearing on her head an image of God, 
to Whose heaven she brings the faithful, 
although she herself refuses to enter 
heaven, so long as there is still 
suffering on earth. 

The cult of Kwan-yin was widespread 
among Chinese of all faiths and also 
among Japanese for whom her name was 
changed to Kwanon. Her image is to be 
found in Taoist temples as well as in 
Buddist ones, in wayside shrines, and 
in many homes. Kwan-yin is the most 
popular and most beloved deity. 

A. Yueh-shan Wei 



Goddess of Mercy 

and 

Protector of Children 




14 



HE MOST INTERESTING ANSWER, 
.ETTER TO THE EDITOR 

(ear Doug, whoever you are: 



'ou have done yourself in with your 
ast sentence after a long and, may I 
ay fecund, letter. 

lase in point: Myself, which I use as 
in example since it remains, after long 
'ears of much study on many other mat- 
ers, the topic about which I know most, 
ly 'femaleness' is evident in both pri- 
lary and secondary sexual characteris- 
es, all the proper ones (open for in- 
pection to the blind or otherwise dis- 
•elievingl) and my 'fecundity' proved 
;o your male satisfaction by two out- 
if-body children who persist in calling 
le mother even though from time to time 
n these past 21 years I have been 
;empted to resign from that job. 

am not sure that the theory to which 
r ou obliquely refer—that men put women 
lown in most areas of activity because 
;hey are jealous of the ability to bear 
ive children-- is not just another ra- 
tionalizing masculine absurdity. The 
.ruth, I think, may be just so simple 
is to come off simplistic: That from 
larliest times, most men were bigger 
ind stronger than most women, and 
.herefore most men engaged in big, 
trong activities while women were rel- 
igated to littler and weaker ones. 
)ver years of reinforcement, stereo- 
typing, call it what you will, big 
trong men were looked at with ever 
lore respect than little weak ones; 
inversely, little weak women were 
.onsrdered more favorably than big 
.trong ones because they were doing 
/hat was expected of them. 

HI that has happened now is that final - 
y, after many centuries, we have enter- 
id an age where the validity of old 
values is being questioned openly and 
iisplacement and replacement are our 
lew realities. The old-time 'bests' 
ind 'mosts' aren't best and most any 
lore. In< an era of mechanization, 
itrength is no longer a premium value 
ind men's work can become women's as 



well; in age that has seen populariza- 
tion of psychology, the showing or 
withholding of emotion are no longer cut 
and dried signs of weakness or strength, 
so men may join women in the shedding of 
tears and the making of close friends; in 
such a day when all people can be indivi- 
duals of independsnce, a man need no 
longer glory in standing six feet tall 
for some shrunken woman who needs his 
protection, for she may take pride in 
drawing herself up to full height as 
well . 

If what I'm saying to you sounds like 
'We're all becoming more and more alike,' 
that's as it should be. 

We will never be the same, you and I, 
for you will always be able to plant 
seeds and I to bear fruit after receiv- 
ing the seed of your assistance. That 
is as it should be. For this special 
fecundity we will always need each 
other, and that too is as it should be. 

This is a good time to be alive, to 
think, to create, to be a part of 
change that will shape the world's 
future, for more than ever before in 
history we who live today are in charge 
of our own destinies and the destinies 
of those who will come after us. Men 
and women together will be making deci- 
sions for life, based on assessments of 
characteristics other than the physical. 
Survival of the fittest no longer 
derives from size and strength and de- 
pendence on some protector; it will 
come from fecundity of a higher order. 

Will you join me, person to person, in 
being part of the living plasma that 
transcends masculinity and feminity? 

Yours most sincerely, 

Harriet P. Marcus 



15 



STALKING THE ELUSIVE THEOLOGIAN 
An Interview With Rosemary Ruether 



Theologians are elusive for two reasons. 
First they have good camouflage. You 
wouldn't know it if you passed one in 
the laundromat or in a cafeteria since 
they tend to dress like other people. 
Except when among themselves, they also 
talk like most others. Unfortunately, 
and this is the second reason why theo- 
logians are elusive, they do seem to re- 
main among themselves cloistered in semi- 
naries and small colleges often only ven- 
turing out to conferences on Religion and 
Something or Other. Yet the theologians 
would probably tell you his/her mission 
is to provide direction and interpreta- 
tion for his/her community of believers. 

As the result of a Creative Woman advisory 
board meeting, I found myself with an 
assignment to ask Rosemary Radford Rueth- 
er to write for us. A challenging but 
definitely delightful assignment at that. 
It was I who had brought Ruether' s name 
up as a prominent voice in the field of 
religion. And I, for my part, determin- 
ed to camp out on the doorstep of Garrett 
Evangelical Seminary Evanston, Illinois, 
if necessary in order to speak to her. 
Such theatrics, however, were not neces- 
sary. 

Happily, Rosemary Ruether was only a 
phone call away from me at Garrett. The 
switchboard gave^.ne Ruether' s office 
number and I dialed it. The extension 
rang. Much to my amazement the voice on 
the other end of the line was, my good- 
ness it really was, Rosemary Radford 
Ruether! The incarnation of my amaze- 
ment was a cacophony of stutters about 
women, religion, and-um-er Creative Wo- 
man newsletter. In only one bounce 
around a university switchboard, one 
accidental disconnection, and a follow 
up call — fiat . But I digress. 

No, Ruether couldn't squeeze in doing a 
piece of writing for C.W., but yes, of 
course, we could reprint some previously 
published material. In truth, of Rueth- 
er' s many works, notable among them 



Liberation Theology (Paulist Press, 1972), 
I already had my eye on some exerpts from 
her article "What is the Task of Theology" 
( Christianity and Crisis , Vol.36, No. 9. 
May 24, 1976) . It's a short piece address- 
ed to the university. In it, Ruether calls 
the oppressed of the world into community: 

"The Latin American theologian, the Black 
theologian, the Feminist theologian is in- 
vited to speak, but the establishment re- 
serves in its quiver a final arrow of con- 
tempt. First to coopt and then to discre- 
dit the possibility of any reality outside 
itself will allow theological business to 
go on as usual. If possible, the various 
'outsiders' will be set at each other's 
throats, so that the establishment will not 
even be found with blood on its hands at 
the scene of the massacre." 

Transcending the realm of practical action, 
Ruether is a theologian for whom faith-to 
her, Christian faith-means transforming the 
world. And as a theologian of hope she too 
has a vision for the goal of humankind. 
Though the oppressed must rise in concert 
to confront the power elites of the world, 
they must not become the new oppressors! 

"Echoing Camus' The Rebel , we need to 
overthrow the master as master but to 
affirm 'him' as a human being. Rebellion 
must remain grounded upon our common hu- 
manity. When it becomes murder, the 
negation of the humanity of the ' enemy ,' 
rebellion negates its own foundation and 
can become that reversal of oppression in 
which 'seven devils return to occupy the 
place from which one has been driven' and 
'the last state of that house is worse 
than the first.'" 

Thus would Ruether guide us to the con- 
struction of "a new humanity, a reconciled 
existence." Of course her article said 
more. Ruether challenges her fellow theo- 
logians to come out more into the world: 
to make the language of theology that of 
the world. She challenges theology, 
ministry, and the church "to represent 



16 



the critical and transforming edge of 
corporate human existence." We're con- 
stantly looking to one another for inspi- 
ration. After this brief introduction, 
perhaps you'll add Rosemary Radford Ruether 
to your list. She is a theologian in the 
world. After all I found her at just the 
other end of my telephone. 

Marilyn Blitzstein 

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Buhrig, Marga. "Position of Women in the 
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issue of STUDENT WORLD, no. 3, 1966. 

Cassara, Beverly Benner, ed. AMERICAN 

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Central Advisory Council for the Ministry 
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1962. 

Church of England, commission appointed 
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Clark, Elizabeth and Herbert Richardson. 
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Durkin, Mary G. THE SUBURBAN WOMAN, HER 
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Emswiler, Sharon Neufer and Thomas Neufer 
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Magalis, Elaine. CONDUCT BECOMING TO A 
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V 



Mollenkott, Virginia Ramey. WOMEN, MEN 
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THE WOMAN IN AMERICA, spring 1964 issue 
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Family, and Society, and the Faith and 
Order Commission. CONCERNING THE 
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THE EPISCOPAL NEW YORKER, XLVIII, 6 
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18 




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"i found god in myself 

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From FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO HAVE 
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future issues: 

Manuscripts are eagerly solicited from you 
readers out there! Contributions may be 
sent either to the editorial office at 
Governors State University or directly to 
the editors of special themes listed 
be 1 ow : 



Spring 1978: Women in Science - - as 
investigators, scholars, teachers, collab- 
orators with men, their contributions, et 
cetera; deadline March 31 , 1978; Guest 
Editor: Dr. HELENE GUTTMAN, Office of the 
Director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood 
Institute, Bldg. 31/Rm. 5A33, Bethesda, 
Md. 20014. 



Summer 1978: 
arts, the lives 



Women in Art -- the visual 
of women both 
in articles, 



and works 
traditional and contemporary 
prints, photographs, et cetera; deadline 
June 21 , 1978; Guest Editor: BETYE SAAR, 
8074 Willow Glen, Hollywood, Ca. 90046. 

Our readers have sent cards and telephone 
calls to report their delight in "Betye 
Saar -- Spirit Catcher," the beautiful 
TV documentary, one of a series cele- 
brating distinguished American artists 
( The Originals : Women in Art, carried 
over public television channels). 
Creative Woman staff met to view the 
show together and to toast the star. We 
are proud that this powerful, unique 
artist is associated with our news- 
letter and will edit the special issue 
on Women in Art, Summer 1978. 







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The 
Creatine 
Socman 



Governors State University 
Park Forest South, IL 60466 



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